Ivan Panin was born in Russia on December 12, 1855. Having participated in plots against the Czar at an early age, he was exiled and, after spending some years studying in Germany, he came to the United States and entered Harvard University. After graduation in 1882, he converted from agnosticism to Christianity.
In 1890 he discovered some of the phenomenal mathematical designs underlying both the Greek text of the New Testament and the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.
He was to devote over 50 years of his life painstakingly exploring the numerical structure of the Scriptures, generating over 43,000 detailed, hand-penned pages of analysis (and exhausting his health in the process). He went on to be with the Lord in his 87th year, on October 30, 1942.
The Heptadic Structure
The recurrence of the number seven — or an exact multiple of seven — is found throughout the Bible and is widely recognized. The Sabbath on the seventh day; the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine in Egypt; the seven priests and seven trumpets marching around Jericho; the Sabbath Year of the land are well-known examples.
Also, Solomon’s building the Temple for seven years, Naaman’s washing in the river seven times, and the seven churches, seven lamp stands, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven stars, and so on in the Book of Revelation, all show the consistent use of the number seven.
But there turns out to be much more below the surface. Ivan Panin noted the amazing numerical properties of the Biblical texts — both the Greek of the New Testament and the Hebrew of the Old Testament. These are not only intriguing to discover, they also demonstrate an intricacy of design which testifies to a supernatural origin!
One of the simplest — and most provocative — aspects of the Biblical text is the vocabulary used. The number of vocabulary words in a passage is normally different from the total number of words in a passage. Some words are repeated. It is easy, for example, to use a vocabulary of 500 words to write an essay of 4,000 words.
The first 17 verses of the Gospel of Matthew are a logical unit, or section, which deals with a single principal subject: the genealogy of Christ. It contains 72 Greek vocabulary words in these initial 17 verses. (The verse divisions are man’s allocations for convenience, added in the 13th century.)
The number of words which are nouns is exactly 56, or 7 x 8.
The Greek word “the” occurs most frequently in the passage: exactly 56 times, or 7 x 8. Also, the number of different forms in which the article “the” occurs is exactly 7.
There are two main sections in the passage: verse 1–11, and 12–17. In the first main section, the number of Greek vocabulary words used is 49, or 7 x 7.
Why not 48, or 50?
Of these 49 words, the number of those beginning with a vowel is 28, or 7 x 4. The number of words beginning with a consonant is 21, or 7 x 3.
The total numbers of letters in these 49 words is 266, or 7 x 38 — exactly! The number of vowels among these 266 letters is 140, or 7 x 20. The number of consonants is 126, or 7 x 18 — exactly.
Of the 49 words, the number of words which occur more than once is 35, or 7 x 5. The number of words occurring only once is 14, or 7 x 2. The number of words which occur in only one form is exactly 42, or 7 x 6. The number of words appearing in more than one form is also 7.
The number of the 49 Greek vocabulary words which are nouns is 42, or 7 x 6. The number of words which are not nouns is 7. Of the nouns, 35 are proper names, or exactly 7 x 5. These 35 names are used 63 times, or 7 x 9. The number of male names is exactly 28, or 7 x 4. These male names occur 56 times or 7 x 8. The number which are not male names is 7.
Three women are mentioned — Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. The number of Greek letters in these three names is 14, 7 x 2.
The number of compound nouns is 7. The number of Greek letters in these 7 nouns is 49, or 7 x 7.
Only one city is named in this passage, Babylon, which in Greek contains exactly 7 letters.
And on it goes. To get an indication of just how unique these properties are, try the example in the inset.
There are even more features in the numerical structure of the words themselves. As you may know, both Hebrew and Greek uses the letters of the alphabet for numerical values. Therefore, any specific word — in either Hebrew or Greek — has a numerical value of its own by adding up the values of the letters in that particular word. The study of the numerical values of words is called gemetria.
The 72 vocabulary words add up to a gametrical value of 42,364, or 7 x 6,052. Exactly. If one Greek letter was changed, this would not happen.
The 72 words appear in 90 forms — some appear in more than one form. The numeric value of the 90 forms is 54,075, or 7 x 7,725. Exactly.
We will defer other examples of gametrical properties of the Biblical text for subsequent articles, but it becomes immediately obvious that hidden below the surface are aspects of design that cannot be accidental or just coincidence. Remember, the rabbis say that “coincidence” is not a kosher word!
There are words in the passage just described that occur nowhere else in the New Testament. They occur 42 times (7 x 6) and have 126 letters (7 x 18). How was this organized?
Even if Matthew contrived this characteristic into his Gospel, how could he have known that these specific words — whose sole characteristic is that they are found nowhere else in the New Testament — were not going to be used by the other writers? Unless we assume the absurd hypothesis that he had an agreement with them, he must have had the rest of the New Testament before him when he wrote his book. The Gospel of Matthew, then, must have been written last.
It so happens, however, that the Gospel of Mark exhibits the same phenomenon. It can be demonstrated that it would have had to be written “last.” The same phenomenon is found in Luke. And in John, James, Peter, Jude and Paul. Each would have had to write after the other in order to contrive the vocabulary frequencies! You can demonstrate that each of the New Testament books had to have been “written last.”
There is no human explanation for this incredible and precise structure. It has all been supernaturally designed. We simply gasp, sit back, and behold the skillful handiwork of the God who keeps His promises.
And we are indebted to the painstaking examinations and lifetime commitment of Dr. Ivan Panin for uncovering these amazing insights.
Isn’t God — and His remarkable Word — fun?